These earbuds were a free giveaway. I picked them up partly because I can’t resist anything free, but also because I’d left my regular earbuds at home, and sometimes I like to sit back and listen to things while I ride the bus. It’s one of the advantages of riding the bus. I can devote my full attention to whatever I’m listening to, at least until I get close to my stop.
The earbuds sparked a mini-dialogue in my head.
Should I wear these?
Well, they’re pink.
So are your ears.
It also sparked a memory of when I was four and told my mother pink was my favorite color.
“Oh no,” she said. “Pink is a girls’ color.”
At the time that colors having a specific gender was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. I also didn’t put it in those terms. “That’s dumb!” was what I thought but didn’t say. And I became hostile to any mention of favorite colors. There was a show on the local PBS station called Jellybean Junction. The host Fran Powell sang about how you could be any color jellybean you wanted. Any color, I thought angrily, except pink.
I don’t blame my mother. It was the conventional thinking at the time. It’s thinking that’s persisted. I had a college roommate who happened to be gay. Our room’s previous occupants had, for some reason, painted half the room blue and the other half pink. It was a coincidence that we were put in that room, and we laughed about how oddly appropriate it was. We could joke about it because it seemed like things were changing, but according to an Atlantic article from December 2014 toys are becoming more divided by gender. Color is an easy divider: “Rigid boundaries segregate brawny blue action figures from pretty pink princesses.”
Pink has also become the color of breast cancer awareness and support for both those lost to it and the survivors. I’m opposed to breast cancer, and, for that matter, any other form of cancer, but I resent the fact that pink as a way of showing support for those dealing with breast cancer seems to have made it okay for guys to wear pink. I’m against all forms of cancer because it’s a terrible disease that’s killed some of the people closest to me. If I’m wearing something pink it’s because I just happen to like pink. Or because it was free.